Both the Biden administration and its Republican opposition claim that these measures are targeted at the regime, rather than the Cuban people. But the evidence to the contrary is not only anecdotal. The UN estimates that the embargo has cost Cuba over $130bn in damages – costs that are compounded by the penalties imposed by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Cuba’s allies and investors. Between April 2019 and March 2020 alone, OFAC penalties amounted to over $2.4bn, targeting banks, insurance firms, energy companies and travel agencies alike.
The effect of the embargo is therefore both local and global: it cripples the Cuban economy and undermines the multilateral system that the US claims to lead.